Following on from my post about why I wrote Taunting the Dead, because of the success I had with it, my publisher asked for two more to create the DS Allie Shenton Series.
I'd already written 10,000 words of Follow the Leader, but had shelved it to write my first psychological thriller, Watching Over You, as I didn't want to write police procedurals.
Follow the Leader came to me because I'd gone through a particularly harrowing time at my last place of work when three women... let's just say they weren't particularly nice to me.
I got to thinking about how someone who was continually bullied could take revenge on his bullies and whether those bullies were still bullies years later, or if they had shed their ruthless ways as they'd grown older.
I chose the title Follow the Leader because before every murder, I added a chorus of This Old Man, the nursery rhyme. There are six murders in this book and my aim was every time a reader got to the next verse in the rhyme, I hoped they'd got a sense of angst as they knew what was coming.
I then went through a list of children's games to see if any of those were suitable and Follow the Leader was perfect for this story.
Follow the Leader became a 'cat and mouse' story. From the beginning you know who the killer is, as he is playing a game by leaving clues at each murder scene, but you can work out the clues alongside the police as to how he was eventually caught.
There's also a distinct subplot that explores nature v nurture. Are some people born evil, or a victim of circumstances? Not everyone who is ill treated as a child goes on to commit murder. Equally, I explore why it happened from the killer's point of view.
I love the cover because it shows how vulnerable we are as children, how often we are alone or scared in our childhoods, how dark things can influence us as we grow up, and what demons may lurk in the background...
When it came time to writing Only The Brave, I knew that I definitely didn't want to write any more procedurals, so I ended the 'series' and turned it into a trilogy.
Only The Brave was probably the hardest book I will ever write in my career as it mirrored quite a lot of what happened in Taunting the Dead.
I was back with the same villains, as the man who is murdered was working for them. There was a lot of double crossing and my brain was in a spin quite often, trying to fit it altogether.
As well, there was a sub-plot about Allie's younger sister, Karen, that finished in this book too.
It was quite emotional to put Allie through the ringer, but I'm thrilled with how the three stories hang together and finally collide too.
It also taught me that when writing a series, I need to work out a sub-plot that carries over into several books BEFORE I start writing the first one, to ensure it isn't so hard to plot and write.
There is an open end in the last scene of Only the Brave. Someone gets their come-uppance, but the reader never finds out who killed them. Perhaps I may revisit this one day, especially as I have now combined two series into one, with Allie joining DS Grace Allendale in her series.
For those of you who have read this trilogy, there is definitely unfinished business with Terry Ryder too...
Have you read the DS Allie Shenton trilogy? I'd love to know your thoughts.